The Battle of Waterloo was the decisive engagement of the Napoleonic Wars. The Battle saw many brave men distinguish themselves. One of them was Kenneth MacKay, Pipe Major of the Grenadiers of the 79th Regiment of Foot.
Highland bagpipe is rife with things that must be learned in order to play well. As with any big task, setting goals for yourself to keep things moving and improving is a given. Formal goal-setting is a tactic can work but, sometimes, thinking too much of what your ultimate achievement or goal is can overwhelm you when you think of the amount of work to get you there.
The brain is an interesting piece of biology. It is also arguably the most important piece of equipment we use when learning Highland bagpipes. If we can gain better understanding of how it works, we can leverage that to our advantage.
Things were not looking good. We were down 7 to 1 in the fifth inning.
Our opponents, Hillside Team #9, were the bullies of the league. Their lineup was stacked. They had won ten straight games by the 10 run rule. They didn’t play to win; they played for blood. They had won their last eleven games by the ten run rule. In our last game with them, we, too, had suffered the ignominy of the mercy rule.
And, Murphy was pitching. He didn’t really pitch. He threw fire. Most of our players only heard the slap of the ball in the catcher’s mitt and the ump’s “steerike” call before they were even ready. Rumor had it that no one had put the ball in play off of him since the second game of the season.
Blowing steadily and consistently at the chanter reed’s sweet spot is a learned task. Involves mastering a “trifecta” of skills: Identifying the exact pressure we want to blow steadily at, well-coordinated physical blowing skills, and the ability to avoid mental blowing anomalies caused by our brains as we try to navigate the difficult fingerwork of
How often have we pipers been told to “blow steady” or that our chanter notes or drones are “wavering” in and out of tune while we’re playing? “Steady blowing” is a learned skill, and for most of us pipers it does not come naturally. As a matter of fact, most of the world’s population of
A water manometer is an extremely useful tool that can help us to achieve several fundamental goals in piping, including blowing at the correct pressure for our chanter reed with calibrated drone reeds, and with steady blowing. This article will focus only on the first goal, blowing at the correct pressure. Subsequent articles will cover
Many who are reading this may consider that the title above is pure heresy, because, after all, we pipers have been consistently admonished to "blow steady"! Of course a bagpipe has to be blown steadily—it’s the essence of the instrument, right? Why would we not believe that blowing steady should be our primary objective when